Béarnaise sauce is the traditional French accompaniment for grilled steak:
- 2⁄3 cup dry white wine
- 3 tbsp white wine or tarragon vinegar
- 3 shallots, finely chopped
- 5 sprigs of fresh tarragon
- freshly ground white pepper
- 3⁄4 cup unsalted butter
- 3 egg yolks
- 1 tbsp finely chopped fresh tarragon leaves or a mix of tarragon and chervil
Directions: put the wine, vinegar, shallots, tarragon sprigs, and a good grinding of pepper into a small, heavy pan over low heat. Simmer, uncovered, till the liquid has reduced to 2–3 tbsp. Strain through a fine sieve, pressing the shallots and tarragon well to extract maximum flavor. Return the liquid to the pan. Melt the butter gently in another pan and put aside. When it has cooled to lukewarm, pour off the clear liquid to use later; discard the white residue. Set the pan with the wine and vinegar infusion over very low heat and whisk in the egg yolks and a little salt. Add the melted butter, a tablespoon or so at a time, whisking continuously. Wait till each spoonful is absorbed before adding more butter. Remove the pan from the heat before adding the final spoonful; it will be hot enough to go on cooking the sauce. Stir in the chopped tarragon and test that the seasoning is to taste. The sauce can be stored warm for a short time in a bowl placed over a pan of hot, but not boiling, water.
Sauce paloise: replace the tarragon with mint and serve the sauce with poached fish, grilled chicken, or lamb.